Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Nine Great--But Futile--Ideas To Reform Congress

Via the blog Abolish Corporate Personhood Now:
In the chart here, on the left is Exxon’s Profits from the year 2008. On the right is the political spending for 2008, of every politician, campaign, political group, and PAC, winner and loser, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, Independent or other. The numbers are in Billions.

Here are nine possible laws Congress could pass to limit Corporations from buying American Government. A few of them would actually be good for all politicians and groups.
1. Protecting America’s Sovereignty from Foreign Intervention Act

Law: Companies can not spend money on political matters if they are “Influenced by Foreign Citizens”

That will be defined as Foreign stock holders or Foreign debt holders or traded on foreign stock exchanges. Foreign employees in excess of 10% of total employees or foreign sales in excess of 10% total sales.

2. No Megaphones in my House Act

Law: Political Spending by Corporations may not be greater than the annual income of their median employee.

Your neighbor can’t boom their radio all night. You can’t stand in front of a Court House with a megaphone shouting profanities. Corporations shouldn’t be able to outspend every politician running for office.

3. Protect Stockholders Rights Act

Law: All stockholders must be presented with political material before money is spent advertising it, and then they must be given an opportunity to vote for or against said material. Foreign Stockholders are not allowed to vote. 66% of all votes must vote in favor.

Many large Corporations have tens of thousands of share holders. If the Corporation is going to spend profits on political speech, is important that the speech properly reflect the political opinion of the owners.

4. Clarify the Messenger Act

Law: The Corporations must file with the FEC how much money they’re spending and where. And the Corporate Logo of the highest Parent Corporation must be shown through out any commercials.

Citizens seeing these commercials should know exactly who’s paying for them. More importantly, Corporations shouldn’t be able to hide their participation through nice sounding Political Action Committee names or Corporations. The highest parent corporations logo would have to be used (in addition to any other logos they’d want to include).

5. Let us see your faces Act

Law: Corporate Commercials must contain the highest ranked officer in the Corporation saying their name and saying “I fully support the content of this message.”

We want to know where the money is coming from, but we also want to know who is talking to us. And later on, if we decide we didn’t like the message, we should know who not to buy from in the future.

6. Limit Government Contractors from deciding Act

Law: The Federal Government is barred from hiring any corporation that spends money on Lobbyists, electioneering or political advocacy.

If they insist on sticking their noses in our business, we stop doing business with them.

7. Limit Political Commercials to directing Traffic Act

Law: Political Commercials may not offer political advocacy or electioneering, and may only direct people towards their location of business at which point people can read/watch/hear whatever message is presented at their discretion.

Obscenity laws prevent 1-900 numbers from advertising with nude bodies, but they can advertise their phone numbers. Likewise, if Corporations want to get involved with political advocacy, they would have to create a website (or other place of business) and could only spend money advertising the location of place of business. This frankly, would be a great law for all political groups. Instead of having a hundred attack ads that have no value, limit all politicians to direction-ads trying to get people to go to their blogs or rallies or what-have you. It would reduce the volume of our politics and restore some civility, while still leaving everyone the freedom to say whatever they want in public.

8. Limit Corporations from discussing actions they can’t legally perform Act

Law: Corporations can only discuss political issues they can themselves take part in.

Corporations can’t gay-marry or have children, they shouldn’t be allowed to advocate for or against either. They can’t join the military, so they shouldn’t advocate for or against national spending. They can’t vote, so they shouldn’t be able to tell people who to vote for.

9. The Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act

Law: 500% Tax on all money spent on lobbying, electioneering, or political advocacy.

This is just to make it more painful for them. Hit them at the money. (Thank you Alan Grayson.)
Each and every one of these measures would be welcome, individually; together they'd totally reshape our political culture.

Which is why none of them has the least, slightest of a scintilla of a chance in hell of being enacted.


Flying Junior said...

Hey Wood,

If I have been paying attention, San Diego was among the first cities to, I guess, legalize, you know, unlimited corporate spending in an election. Near as I can tell, our next elections should be November 2010, same as everybody else. That's less than a year away. Should be interesting. Don't you think that some legislative body or executive will move to block or ameliorate this egregious mockery of the constitutional process? Or perhaps some lower court will overturn, challenge or question the decision of the high court?

Flying Junior said...

What I mean to say is that San Diego has positioned herself for the corporate take-over, as if to welcome the new owners. Other bodies that govern elections will still make the final decisions that will affect the next election. I don't see it just happening based on the Alito court verdict. Am I naive?